R.A. Dickey was “appreciated but far from beloved” by his teammates

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Earlier this week R.A. Dickey spoke with reporters about his contract situation at the Mets’ holiday party. The team wasn’t thrilled about how he handled the situation and we suddenly heard a report that the Mets were concerned that Dickey was becoming “too absorbed by his new celebrity.” That’s small potatoes compared to what Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is slinging in his column this morning.

And, in an underappreciated part of this saga that soared into visibility this week, Dickey can be a handful. He clearly has enjoyed his rise from the ashes into a Flushing folk hero, and while he deserves praise and riches, there’s also the matter of him having to coexist peacefully in a workplace. His gift for self-promotion and his love of attention don’t endear himself to most teammates. Instead, his durability and outstanding results led him to be appreciated but far from beloved.

If Dickey can’t control his verbiage at a holiday party — “Folks, not today, not with the kids here” was all he had to say to reporters — then how would a full season of uncertainty feel? How many times would Dickey spout off publicly? Or work behind the scenes to make the Mets look bad and boost his own brand?

Oh boy. The amazing part about the sudden character assassination of Dickey is that we didn’t hear a peep about any sort of issue during his three seasons with the team. In a huge media market like New York, you’d think it would come up at some point. We certainly weren’t hearing any complaints when he was providing great material on a regular basis. Now he’s getting hammered on the way out the door. Curious timing.

It’s fair to say Dickey should have handled the holiday party differently, as it was an event for school children affected by Hurricane Sandy, but the Mets were under no obligation to invite him and should have been prepared for the possibility that he would discuss his contract. Both sides were at fault. However, this one event shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Dickey has consistently represented the organization in a dignified manner. The decision to trade him is a baseball move, not one motivated by his personality or ego. And it would make sense whether he complained about his contract situation or not. So let it go.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.